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To Live Well, Risk Well

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Life is a risky business. To get anywhere, you’ve got to have the guts to take risks. Stretch your boundaries. Evolve from the person you were to the person you are meant to be. You’ve got to believe, no matter what your age, that you are a work in progress. Still growing. Still learning. Still stepping outside your comfort zone.

When life is too safe, too predictable, too cautious, people become bored and irritable. They rebel against facing yet another monotonous, meaningless day. So, they do whatever they need to do to stimulate their senses.

Older people may gripe, grumble, piss and moan, as a way to charge up their energies. Younger people, on the other hand, may be attracted to anything that’s arousing and appealing - taking no time to assess whether it’s a dumb risk, or a risk that will serve them well.

No matter what your age, here’s what you need to know about taking risks that will work well for you...

  1. Envision risk-taking as an opportunity to grow, not as a threat.
    Sure, you’ll feel uncomfortable taking a risk. Other people may criticize you. You might hurt yourself. Or, embarrass yourself. Or, look like a fool. Rather than focus on the reasons holding you back, switch your point of view. Focus on how you might benefit from taking the risk. Will you build up your self-confidence? Will you feel proud of yourself? Will you learn something? Will you simply have a damn good time?
  2. You decide how big a risk you want to take.
    We all have a different tolerance for taking risks. Sure, you can push your comfort zone to the edge. Or, you can take a baby step. Which might lead to another baby step. Then, yet another. You decide. You don’t need to be pressured into doing what others do. Yet, you also don’t what to avoid taking risks, simply because others around you are playing it safe.
  3. Learn how to assess risks.
    This is tough to do. So, rather than think about it, you may avoid it. Or, take the easy way out, labeling anything that entails risk as dangerous! Sure, it’s a good idea to avoid taking reckless risks, like driving drunk. Or, taking risks without a safety net, like investing all your money in a hot stock. It’s always a good idea to avoid hitting the ground without a crash helmet. So, take time out to weigh the risks you’re contemplating against the potential benefits. Then, decide if the risk is worth it - for you.
  4. Think about the risks of not taking a risk.
    What are the costs of settling? Or, living with regret? What choices could you have made in your life, but didn’t? Do you still want to always play it safe? Or, are you ready to do something different? Perhaps, take an action that balances your need for safety with your need for danger. Yes, danger. Something that puts you on thin ice. Something that makes you vulnerable. Something that is thrilling, scary and frightening.
  5. Face your fear head-on.
    Whatever it is that’s holding you back, face it head-on. You know that you’re never going to get what you want out of life without taking some risks. And that’s good; for the rewards of risk-taking can be enormous. So if your fears are stopping you from moving ahead, move ahead by facing your fears. Tell your fear, “I really want to do this and I’m sick and tired of you stopping me. So, go sit in the corner and don’t move till I tell you, you can. I’m in charge now, not you.”
  6. Imagine it all working out well.
    Go for it! You’ve done all of the above. You’re ready for the risk. You won’t let negative thoughts undermine your decision. You’re moving forward. You’re succeeding, not settling. You’re evolving from the person you were to the person you were meant to be!
Copyright © 2017: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.

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